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Job site collaboration when there’s a language gap

by Rosetta Stone

Whether your employees love it or hate it, job site collaboration is non-negotiable. With so many moving parts, shifting deadlines, and high-stress work situations, and let’s face it, high employee turnover, each member of your crew relies on others daily to move each project phase forward. 

What does job site collaboration look like on a modern job site? 

First off, let’s start with what collaboration is not. It is not synonymous with communication, nor is it a one-size-fits-all term for anytime two or more people work together on any given project. For instance, an email thread requires two or more parties and isn’t necessarily collaborative. A team meeting requires that multiple people sit in the same room, but doesn’t always result in collaboration. 

Field Service Digital rightly draws a line between communication and collaboration: 

Communication involves simply imparting or exchanging information. 

Collaboration requires taking action with other members of a team to create something together. 

Before we get into a game of semantics and mental gymnastics around how the two are interrelated, we can just come out and say, that yes, there are blurred lines between the two because they feed on each other. You have to share ideas and information to move collaboration in the forward direction, and continued collaboration influences future communication. 

What makes for a successful collaboration environment on a construction site? 

It all circles back to communication and how that communication influences a particular workflow. In construction, this simply means that everyone knows their title, their role, and core responsibilities of their role, and how those responsibilities relate to other roles within the organization. This also means that all of the various safety and compliance issues specific to your job site are adequately communicated. 

In general, successful collaboration across your job sites accomplishes three very important things: 

  1. Collaboration builds trust – True collaboration means that everyone is heard. They trust their teammates enough to know that working together is going to yield the desired outcome. On a construction site, this often means completing daily work on time, and without safety incidents. Your crew must feel an inherent sense of safety and trust to work quickly and free from any danger on the job site. 
  2. Collaboration is seamless – When your crew works well together, it becomes second nature. When your crew arrives at the job site, they know exactly what their tasks are for the day and who to go to for support, and who to communicate with. 
  3. Collaboration is inclusive – Oftentimes, collaboration is a tool for innovation on a job site. Innovation comes when differing perspectives, ideas, backgrounds, and opinions converge respectfully. This cannot be accomplished without a sharp focus on encouraging and developing teammates across diverse backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, and languages. 

The construction industry’s critical language gap

As the construction industry continues to grow, it will inevitably onboard new skilled employees with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). As of January 2020, more than 30% of construction professionals are Hispanic, according to the latest numbers from The Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Beyond that, the construction industry specifically faces a larger language gap than any other industry. 

While this growth in diversity is worth celebrating, it doesn’t come without critical business challenges. Navigating the choppy waters of collaboration in a large-scale organization is difficult enough in your first language. Poor communication is one of the biggest contributors to construction rework. Adding in a language gap only compounds the issue. 

So, how do you address the issue and move towards a more collaborative team environment across a language gap? 

  • Assess the situation. Do you have a clear understanding of how your language gap is impacting your construction business? Do you know how many employees with LEP are working in your organization? What positions do they hold? In other words, do you have a clear language gap? 
  • Be proactive. Your organization is only as effective as the talent you acquire. Skilled construction talent is now more hard to come by than ever, so you want to be proactive by investing in your employees. This all starts by sourcing a language training program that is both flexible and immersive. 
  • Optimize language training for your business. Language training is not one-size-fits-all. Each organization, and beyond that, each learner has very specific learning preferences and schedules that require a personalized learning solution. Your construction crew members are often busy racing to finish work on budget and on time. These stringent deadlines don’t often allow for a lot of extra time to take time out to learn a new language. 

Rosetta Stone Enterprise has a powerful suite of language tools that allow you to assess, onboard, and customize language learning paths specific to each member of your crew—allowing you to make collaboration a priority and moving your entire business forward as a result. 

Are you ready to start down the path towards improved collaboration and productivity on your job sites? 

Rosetta Stone

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